Belur Math endangered

Published: Tuesday 15 March 1994

Exposed landmark After the Victoria Memorial, it is the turn of the Belur Math, headquarters of the Ramakrishna Mission, to be an environmentally endangered landmark near Calcutta. Air pollution is causing sandstone to peel off from the upper dome, parapets and cornices and discolouring the upper stories of the Math, which was built in 1938.

Air pollution levels estimated by a team from the School of Environmental Studies of Jadavpur University in Calcutta points to rapid environmental degradation. Though suspended particulate matter is only 235 micrograms per cum -- compared to 1,500 micrograms per cum in urban Calcutta -- it poses a threat because continuous exposure could result in damage to the structures. Another worrying factor is the high acidity in the air.

Several industries in the vicinity, including a brick kiln, small foundries and smelters, could be responsible for the poor air quality. The nearby Cossipore Gun and Shell Factory and the Calcutta Electric Supply Corp's generating station may also be partially responsible.

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